Mary Cummings
Agent for Kids Books

Wish List

                                       What I’m Wishing For (and not!) 
Top of my list for picture books: 
Love themes. This could be love for a pet, baby, friend, sibling, parent, etc. or love for the full world and nature. (I see too many that are heavily mom focused, with the baby or child passive or not present. I'm looking for the back and forth dynamic, the "twosome"). 

I'm also eager to see:
      a lyrically written Thanksgiving book on gratitude 
      holiday books (especially lesser-known and from minority cultures)
      a story about a kid who collects (rocks, buttons, or some such)  
      one on the beauty of the Western landscape
      lyrical nature topics

Top of my list for middle grade novels: 
Contemporary, or historical (perhaps end of 19th/beginning 20th century,  McCarthy Red Scare era, polio epidemic). I'd like to see a school story about an idealized relationship that develops more nuance (a crush, a best friend, a favorite teacher). Magical realism or light fantasy. 

Top of my list for young adult novels: 
A strong - but not romantic - relationship between two main characters. Prefer realism over fantasy, but not dark or gritty.  

My tastes are pretty broad. I particularly like warmth. Also good are humor, adventure, and quirky charm. Kindness is important to me. I like adorable and cute. I like sad and satisfying. I like gorgeous and lyrical. I like wondrous. I really like love. I like energetic and unconventional. I like serious and poignant. (I know. As I say: my tastes are pretty broad).

I want to feel a change in my breathing when I read a manuscript: a change because I’m seeing something really good that makes me go “wow!” I want a strong story arc and strong protagonist. I want characters to experience some kind of change or transformation. I want something that kids will relate to, stirring or awakening new emotions and providing them with a look at possible ways to live in the world. 

My personal “golden time” with books growing up was when I was 9 – 11, and I have special connection with middle grade work perhaps as a result of this. 

I began collecting picture books when I was in high school and truly love the form.

Always welcome:

Stories about times, people and places underrepresented in children’s and teen lit

Picture books with a main character (like Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy etc.) with enough energy, personality and situation possibilities for a series

Friendship stories

Magic realism, and fantasy grounded in or related to the real world

Great read-aloud picture books

Stories about important, complex relationships

Middle grade narrative nonfiction 

Lyrically written science, nature, mindfulness and social awareness topics

Stories about holidays, including those important to a minority community

Author-illustrator picture books 

Middle grade or ya written in multiple formats (poetry and prose; diary and text etc.)

Probably not a fit for me:

Picture books with rhyming words at the end of every line (see more info and suggestions in "Rhyming Couplets" article under "Tips" section)
YA stories with characters out of their teens 
Zombies, vampires, etc.
Monster-under-the-bed (even if cute, there are way too many on the market)
"Different is good" stories (again, flooded market)
Mean girl stories and school dramas
Anthropomorphic or animated objects (except vehicle stories. I love them)
Meta narrated picture book texts
Abuse, murder, gore
   (which is not to say I totally shy away from darkness and danger!) 

I look forward to hearing from you - but don't send attachments as we delete without being read. Remember to follow the submission guidelines!


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